When I walk outside today, the smoke and fire smell makes me cry. We are weeping for our friends, family and neighbors who are suffering one way or another.
The bill is due on centuries of exploiting and degrading the planet. Wildfires are raging across the country and there’s simply no way to stop them once they’ve started. California has 14,000 firefighters fighting 28 major blazes over Labor Day weekend. That’s a triage and evacuate setup, not a put out the fire opportunity. Fires have devoured 2.5 million acres so far, and the fire season is just beginning. Oregon has lost six small towns and 800,000 acres so far. In Washington, nearly 600,000 acres are charcoal. Unusually forceful winds are making the fires worse. The skies are a Martian orange all up and down the coast.
And, we’re dealing with a pandemic – without national leadership, without a plan to stop it, and without health insurance for millions of Americans.
We have at least 14 million people out of work, and no sign of any assistance. When do we reach that critical point when too many desperate people resort to crime and violence to survive and feed their children? At the same time, we have a stock market doing well.
These disasters are related. We face long term issues causing immediate crises. We have valued short-term profits over prevention for a century and now we’re going to pay the much higher price of crisis remediation. Why? Sacrificing the future was not – and is not necessary.
IF we have the people, the skills, and the resources, we CAN do whatever needs doing to keep the environment clean, safe, and protected, and keep all of us as healthy as possible. We can do the controlled burns and fire prevention necessary to reduce the chance of these catastrophic blazes. We can provide everyone with a basic income so that there is no poverty and unnecessary illness. We can pay for as many jobs as it takes to clean up and take prudent environmental safety action. We can choose to do this, or we can continue to choose to value profits over people, justify a systemic transfer of wealth, and a systemic exploitation and degradation of people and the environment.
Recognizing our desperate situation, a school of economic scholars has come up with a new perspective on our existing money system that justifies spending far more on prevention and the general welfare. This new viewpoint is called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). They are right that we can and should spend to get ourselves out of these dire circumstances. They are right that as long as we do not try to spend more than we have the people, the skills, and the resources to accomplish, we will not cause inflation.
But, MMT fails to acknowledge the significance of leaving the existing money system in place and favors increasing this government spending by overdraft and increasing debt. That is all our existing money system allows. Except for coins, today the government does not have the power to create our money supply.
In our money system today, the private banks have the privilege and power of creating 95% of our money. They create our money supply when they make loans. They choose who and what gets the new money first, making their profits the guiding principle – not the welfare of the nation and its citizens. Yes, the government can go into more and more debt, and pay interest on that debt, or perhaps not. However, government spending is only a third of our GDP. Keeping this money system in place that privileges the financial sector and a wealthy elite requires exponentially growing the amount of debt and the size of the economy. Increasing debt shifts wealth from the many to the few. Increasing profits and the size of the economy requires exploitation and degradation of people and the planet. That is not sustainable, as we are learning the hard way.
There is another way to survive and reach our goal of a better world for all – without the profit-driven debt and its consequences. We must reform and restructure the money system. Change the money to Just Money – fair to all and free from debt, created by government as an asset.